Infiltration: Gen Z demos hijacked by hired goons as government reorganises budget to accommodate new reality

  • 8 Jul 2024
  • 3 Mins Read
  • 〜 by James Ngunjiri

 On June 18, demonstrations erupted in Nairobi over the controversial tax bill – Finance Bill, 2024, which sparked discontent among Kenyans.

The demonstrations legitimately initiated by Gen Z as the democratic expression of public disapproval of the Finance Bill, 2024, leading to the termination of the Bill, started in the capital – Nairobi, and later spread countrywide, were significant since participants were using social media platforms to organise and voice their opposition.

The organisation and coordination of the demonstrations from across ethnic lines around common economic demands marked a break with previous demos that have typically been controlled by politicians with ethnic grievances often at the fore.

The demonstrations later degenerated into a potential threat to national security with targeted attacks on critical State institutions, including Parliament, the Supreme Court of Kenya and the Office of the Governor of Nairobi County, as a result of which lives were lost and property worth millions of shillings destroyed or looted.

As a result of this, activists say the violence was the work of “goons” hired by politicians to either discredit legitimate demonstrations or advance their agenda. Several called on social media for the next planned demonstrations (July 4) to be cancelled.

“It seems the State has realised that the only way to counter this movement is by using goons to incite violence, break into people’s property, loot, and tarnish our cause,” one of the activists told Reuters in Nairobi. “It’s time to go back to the drawing board and strategise on how best to overcome this violence and keep our protest focused on their true objectives,” he added.

The Standard newspaper reported that some politicians could have had a hand in the bloody protests as some goons were ferried in buses from Mathare, Dandora, Kayole, and Kawangware, among other areas, to counter protests organised by the Gen Z and attract reaction from security agents.  Activist Boniface Mwangi even shared a video on social media of thugs hired by politicians breaking into shops and looting.

The Daily Nation newspaper also reported that six politicians, a businessman and two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are on the radar of State intelligence and security agencies following suspicion of their involvement in fuelling anti-government protests.

The politicians, the businessman and the two NGOs are suspected of mobilising the youth from several informal settlement areas and giving them cash handouts with instructions to turn the demonstrations violent.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) flagged the changing face and character of the demonstrations earlier in the week. In a statement, KNCHR Chair Roseline Odede said they had noticed the change in the demographic of the protests. “Whereas last week they were young and peaceful, it seems that other people from other sectors of life infiltrated the protest and turned them violent,” she said.  


The Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) identified several protesters from viral videos and has urged them to present themselves to local police stations for questioning. Additionally, security agencies said they were in pursuit of rowdy youth who were recorded stealing from businesses during the demonstrations. 

On July 4, during a Cabinet meeting at State House, Nairobi, chaired by President William Ruto, the Cabinet was informed that even though the riots started as a protest against the tax measures proposed in the Finance Bill, 2024, they were infiltrated, hijacked and taken over by criminal and opportunistic political forces.

The Cabinet was also informed that security agencies had managed to stabilise the situation and are continuing to monitor the developments.  

President Ruto said the government must now focus on charting a new future for the country, pointing out that significant changes must be made to align with that new future.

On any security officer who may have acted outside the confines of the law, the Cabinet said they will be dealt with in accordance with legal procedure and by the institutions mandated to do so. The Cabinet also called for action against those who have committed heinous crimes of arson, looting and robbery, among others, saying such atrocities must not go unpunished.

The withdrawn Finance Bill

During the Cabinet meeting, President Ruto said the National Treasury will reorganise the budget to accommodate the new reality. This will include substantial cutting down of budgets to “balance between what to be implemented and what can wait” and ensuring that key national programmes are not affected.

“Our plan is good and solid, and, in the fullness of time, we shall be vindicated,” the President said.

As part of State interventions in response to Kenyans’ calls for greater economic inclusion and accountability in the management of public affairs, a dispatch from State House stated, “Cabinet considered a wide range of proposals aimed at reducing the Financial year 2024/25 budget by KSh 346 billion, being the revenue that was expected from the Finance Bill, 2024.”